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Meet the team: Ashley Hovells

Ashley Hovells, a trusted advisor and sounding board within COEL has been part of the team for over 10 years.

Ashley is incredibly passionate about sports, therefore, it should come as no surprise that COEL’s incredibly popular Charity Golf Day was his idea. This initiative has raised thousands of pounds for COEL’s nominated charity The Phoenix Trust.

We sat down with Ashley to dig deeper into his history at COEL and learn more about his role as General Manager of Furniture, Move and Storage. 

Can you describe a typical day at your job?

As a family man, I have an efficient team who ensures I don’t oversleep! 

I have been with my gorgeous wife, Charley, for 15 years and we have two beautiful children: my five-year-old son Leo wakes me up at 6 am – who needs alarm clocks! – and my eight-month-old daughter Emmy.

After a morning cuddle, I take the real boss of the household, our 7-year-old Golden Retriever Nala, for a walk before making my way into the office.

Once I get into work, I could be dealing with:

  • Client matters, such as site visits and sourcing the right furniture for their needs
  • Line management since our department is growing and we have been taking on new staff
  • Logistical issues around supply chains and delivery.
Ashley blog post images

What are some of the challenges you have had to overcome in your role?

We work with a wide range of clients, from small start-ups to multi-national companies. Each company has their own unique requirements and it’s our job to make sure these are met to the best of our ability.

As a result of this, I’ve dedicated a lot of my time to increasing my knowledge base. Particularly in the lab space, as in recent years we have done increasing amounts of provision for laboratories and specialised research and development units. It has been an interesting learning curve and we continue to work hard to ensure our clients receive the best advice and service possible. 

Did you always want to work in workplace design/furniture?

In all honesty, no. When I left school, I originally wanted to be a plumber or a carpenter. I wanted to have a trade behind me, as a result, I looked for courses and apprenticeships while working for a furniture and stationary company in Cambridge and just grew into that business. Since then, I haven’t looked back.

In terms of working for COEL the job actually found me. I worked for a company in the same industry for over four years and, unfortunately, was made redundant. After that, some of the team members moved to COEL, and I followed.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about going into workplace design, specifically furniture?

No day is the same as you’ll be working on a different projects everyday. So, if you like variety and collaboration, then I can’t recommend this industry enough.  

What is your favourite thing about your role and being part of the COEL team?

I’m coming up to twelve years at COEL, and the variety of roles I have held has been incredible. I started in the warehouse, then moved on to the installation side of things. Following that, I progressed to project management in the Furniture, Move & Storage department, which is where I am today. 

There are so many things I like about my role, including the transformation we deliver in taking an existing or open space and creating something totally new. I also find working closely with clients to achieve something special is very rewarding.

Regarding being part of the COEL team, I appreciate how much the team looks after their own. It’s not easy to find a company that looks after staff like COEL do.

The growth of the company has been phenomenal, from our small office on Chesterton High Street to our current home at Nuffield Road, it’s been amazing to see how dynamic the company has been and how it continues to evolve. There has been a real determination to bring more of a social and community focused aspect to the company, which I appreciate and believe is very appealing to anyone looking to join the team.

Ashley Hovells 2

And when you are not working, what do you like to do?

Spending time with my wife, two children and dog, playing golf and watching Man United are the things I love to do the most. 

When the time is right, I’d love to explore America more as I’ve always loved the country and would like to visit the likes of Vegas, San Francisco among others. On top of that I would love to one day watch The Masters at Augusta.

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